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Interventional Radiology & Kyphoplasty

Most bones require a significant trauma to break. Falls, sports injuries, car accidents and other sources of excessive force are the most common causes of full or partial fractures. In some cases, however, a bone can break without evidence of such a force. A pathologic fracture occurs when a bone breaks because it is weakened by an underlying medical condition. Routine activities and forces as slight as the weight of the body can fracture a diseased bone, causing pain and loss of function. Fortunately, pathologic fractures can be corrected using advanced treatment methods performed by qualified interventional radiologists.

At IVC, we are proud to offer life-changing solutions allow our patients to live full lives free of pain, anxiety and restrictions. Call us today at 503-612-0498 to schedule an appointment and explore your treatment options.

Who Is at Risk for a Pathologic Fracture?

There are dozens of medical conditions that can lead to a pathologic fracture. Causes of fragile bone include osteomyelitis, osteoporosis, cancer and certain inherited bone disorders. Everyday occurrences, such as exiting a car, brushing your teeth or sneezing, can fracture a bone that has been weakened by an illness. In rare cases, a pathologic fracture that happens suddenly and without explanation can be an indication of an undiagnosed medical condition. If you believe you have a fracture without an injury that would normally cause it, it should be examined by a knowledgeable medical professional as soon as possible.

Diagnosing a Pathologic Fracture

Accurate diagnosis of an injury is essential for successful treatment and a healthy recovery. The symptoms of any kind of fracture might include pain, bruising, tenderness, swelling, numbness, tingling or difficulty moving a limb. A pathologic fracture can be detected through a physical exam and a complete medical history conducted by an experienced medical practitioner. If a pathologic fracture is suspected, the doctor may order additional tests – such as an x-ray, MRI or CT scan – to confirm the diagnosis and identify the medical condition responsible for the fracture. Appropriate treatment for a pathologic fracture depends on the underlying condition and the location of the injury.

Treatments for a Pathologic Fracture

Correctly identifying a pathologic fracture is the first step toward healing the break and returning to your normal life. There are multiple ways to treat a pathologic fracture. The bone may be able to heal with minimal medical intervention. A cast, splint, plate, pin or screw may be sufficient to hold the bone in place while it heals. If so, you’ll need to rest and avoid activities that require the use of the injured part of your body. Treatment may also include taking supplements like calcium and vitamin D to encourage healing and medication to manage pain. If the fracture is related to a condition that makes it difficult for the bone to heal, additional treatment may be required.

What Is Kyphoplasty?

Kyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that utilizes balloon catheters and bone cement to repair pathologic fractures. During the procedure, a specially trained doctor uses real-time image guidance to introduce the balloon into the affected bone. The balloon is gradually inflated to restore the bone to its original dimensions and strength, then deflated and removed. The doctor then places medical cement into the space created by the balloon to fortify the bone. Kyphoplasty is an interventional procedure, meaning it uses smaller incisions, has fewer risks of complication and requires less recovery time than a traditional surgical technique.

Am I a Good Candidate for Kyphoplasty?

Nonsurgical treatments including bracing, activity modification and prescribed medication can be used to treat pathologic fractures. With this conservative approach, a fracture typically heals in about three months. Kyphoplasty may be indicated if:

  • Nonoperative measures do not provide adequate relief
  • You cannot afford the extended recovery time of nonoperative treatments
  • You wish to avoid pain medication and the associated risks

Kyphoplasty may not be right for all pathologic fractures. An experienced interventional radiologist must evaluate your individual case and determine the best procedure for your circumstances.

How Is Kyphoplasty Performed?

Kyphoplasty is performed under local anesthesia with sedation or general anesthesia, depending on what you and your interventional radiologist decide on during the consultation process. To begin the procedure, your interventional radiologist makes a small incision over the fracture to expose the bone. They then insert a thin, hollow tube into the bone to allow access to its interior. A balloon-tipped catheter is inserted into the bone through the tube and the balloon is inflated to guide the bone back to its original shape. 

When the balloon is removed, a hollow cavity remains within the bone. Your interventional radiologist injects a quick-drying orthopedic cement into the cavity to reinforce the bone from the inside out. The incision is then sutured closed and any other fractures are treated in the same fashion before the procedure concludes. Kyphoplasty typically takes up to one hour per each fracture that is treated.

What Is Recovery Like After Kyphoplasty?

Following the procedure, you may experience soreness at the incision site. This discomfort is usually short-lived and easily managed with an ice pack or over-the-counter medication. Your interventional radiologist will let you know if you should avoid any activities and give you instructions for caring for yourself after the procedure. Most patients return to their daily routine in a matter of days and notice an improvement in their pain within the first week. Your recovery may take longer if your kyphoplasty was performed on more than one fracture. Your interventional radiologist will monitor your recovery and the success of the procedure with follow-up visits. 

Advanced Bone Care at IVC

Pain can be a debilitating condition that impairs many facets of your life, including your work, recreation, sleep and mood. Though bone fractures often improve with time and conservative treatment, some serious fractures require more a more robust and comprehensive approach. We are here to help you find relief. At IVC, we offer treatments that restore your quality of life with minimal discomfort or downtime. Call us today at 503-612-0498 to schedule a consultation and discover how kyphoplasty can heal your pathologic fracture, restore function and eliminate your pain.

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